Setup a new Mac in 5 minutes

Setup a new Mac in 5 minutes

I've just taken proud ownership of a shiny new iMac which meant I had the (dis)pleasure of downloading all of my applications and setting up my development environment. I thought this would be the usual manual process but thanks to Homebrew and Homebrew Cask it was all be automated.


Homebrew is one of the first things I always chuck on a new Mac. Installing it is just a one-line command in the terminal.

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

On first run it'll probably ask you to install Xcode's command line tools.

Homebrew allows us to install all the packages Apple missed out. For example, we're probably going to want to install OpenSSL, a version of PHP with MCrypt baked in, and some form of database system like MySQL or Postgres.

Once it's all installed we can run things like brew install mysql to download, compile and install various packages.

For full documentation on Homebrew, check out their Github project.

Homebrew Cask

As an extension to Homebrew, Cask was created to allow the quick installation of Mac apps. It's so cool and quick, I couldn't believe it when Chris Rowe told me about it.

To install it, run the following on your command line.

brew install caskroom/cask/brew-cask

Now we can run things like this:

brew cask install google-chrome

Basically any app that isn't reliant on the App Store and is remotely popular will be available as a formula for you to take advantage of.

You might want to run the commands with the --appdir flag as otherwise they'll be installed in /opt/homebrew-cask/Caskroom and symlinked to your ~/Applications directory.

Bundle, and the Brewfile

Homebrew is great but it could be quicker. Thankfully there's a package called Bundle that will allow us to use a Brewfile to run several of our homebrew commands in one go.

Of course we could just write a bash script to run the commands for us but the brewfile just feels a little more elegant to me.

A brewfile is very similar to Ruby's Gemfile that's used to manage dependencies and I guess it could also be compared to the composer.json file in PHP.

We can install the Bundle package in by running another command in a terminal to fetch it for us.

brew install homebrew/boneyard/bundle

Once installed we can create our Brewfile! You can pop this anywhere you like, you'll just need to make sure you run the brew bundle command later from the same directory.

Here's my completed Brewfile that I keep safely in my dotfiles repo:


# Install Dev bits and pieces
tap josegonzalez/php
tap homebrew/dupes

install openssl
install php56-mcrypt
install josegonzalez/php/composer
install mysql
install phpunit

install node
install npm

# Install Cask
install caskroom/cask/brew-cask

# Install Casks
cask install virtualbox
cask install vagrant
cask install iterm2
cask install sequel-pro
cask install the-unarchiver
cask install google-chrome
cask install atom
cask install spotify

With Homebrew and the bundle pacakge installed I just clone my dotfiles repo down and run the brew bundle command. It'll install all my essential tools like PHP and Node, grab Cask for me and then install my OS X apps with one single line.

Of course Vagrant is one of those packages, so now all I need to do is pull Homestead or Vaprobash down and I'm back with my familiar environment in 5 minutes.

I think that's pretty fucking awesome.

Bonus: ZSH

Once you've ditched Bash for ZSH you'll never want to go back (trust me, it's worth it for the autocomplete alone). Thankfully we can install it with one line thanks to Oh My ZSH

curl -L | sh

That's it! Everything will be ready for us and we can configure our ~/.zshrc file as required.

Happy coding 😊

Work With Us! We're currently accepting new projects at Cocoon. If you have a cool new thing you want us to help with, feel free to drop me a line ✌️

About Stephen Radford

Software Engineer. I take a few photos when I'm not stuck behind a keyboard too.

Leicester, UK